Jamie McAllan (Garett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) return from WWII to Mississippi where Jamie's brother Henry (Jason Clarke) bought a farm much to his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) dismay. Ronsel's family has worked on that farm since the slave days.
Jamie and Ronsel bond over shared trauma of the war much to the outrage Pappy (Jonathan Banks).
Pappy along with the local klansmen cut out Ronsel tongue but leave him alive for his family to find.
Jamie then kills his father during the night to which he tells Laura the next day. Laura then tells Henry that his father died during the night.
What happens next is left to the viewer to determine. The Jacksons find happiness on a better farm. Ronsel then goes to germany to be with girlfriend that fathered a son by. Jamie then heads north.